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The right to privacy is protected by a wide array of human rights treaties, and encompasses the protection of personal privacy, family life, and the right to dignity.

By virtue of its covert nature, data on government surveillance is difficult to find and confirm. While policies and judicial decisions are sometimes available, reliable information is occasionally released in leaks or aggregated in official reports.

PEN has released survey data of writers expressing concern about mass surveillance. Freedom House also includes survey data about open and free private discussion in its annual country reports, as well as internet surveillance.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse maintains a searchable database of data breaches including medical, banking, personal devices, and internet service data breaches. The non-profit research initiative Ranking Digital Rights examines privacy policies and user data retention as part of its Corporate Accountability Index.

In 2013, the OpenNet Initiative published data on internet censorship, filtering, and surveillance. The Surveillance Industry Index tracks companies and sales of surveillance equipment to governments around the world.